Kauser and Janna

UHN Occupational Therapist Kauser Tarbhai (L) discusses a clinical idea for publication in Occupational Therapy Now with CAOT's Janna MacLachlan. (Photo: UHN)


UHN's occupational therapy team has recognized content expertise in their clinical areas, but some have yet to master the best methods to disseminate that knowledge.

To help clinicians advance their academic and scholarly practice beyond UHN, a Dragons' Den was held at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH) earlier in October as part of Occupational Therapy Month.

Janna MacLachlan, former Managing Editor of Occupational Therapy Now, met with the occupational therapists and rehabilitation assistants and provided suggestions for preparing a manuscript for publication.

Subsequently, the team developed 'pitches' that highlight clinical concerns in Canadian occupational therapy (OT) practice. They presented to three experts—the Dissemination Dragons— Sandra Li-James, Director of Professional Practice, TWH; Lakshmi Matmari, Clinical Education Project Manager, TWH; and Veronika Lukacs, a well-published staff Occupational Therapist; who each provided feedback and support.

"This was such an innovative approach in engaging OT clinicians in academic practice," says Li-James. "It is so inspiring to be around such an enthusiastic group of individuals.

"Kudos to them all for their brilliant ideas that make a difference for our patients."

The 10 unique pitches aim to enhance the occupational therapy role in promoting safe and patient-focused care across clinical contexts at UHN. Over the next year, each participant will receive mentorship to ensure clinical ideas are shared and shape excellent occupational therapy practice.

Hats for Hope in The Pencer Centre

Hats for Hope
Over the course of six months, The Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Tumor Centre has collected over 200 handmade hats to be distributed to their patients. (Photo: UHN)

As the winter temperatures approach, many of us are preparing to bundle up with gloves, scarves and hats.

This is especially true for the patients in The Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Tumor Centre who, with the help of the centre's Patient & Family Advisory Committee (PFAC), have the opportunity to select a handmade hat, free of charge, through their "Hats for Hope" project.

The Pencer Centre at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is dedicated to managing tumours of the brain and spinal cord. The Pencer Centre's PFAC formed to provide a patient and family voice in the development of services and programs at the centre. 

Since that time PFAC has broadened its influence to include not only an advisory role, but also a successful fundraising arm – raising over $2 million – and providing support to all those affected by a brain tumour.

The "Hats for Hope" project was first conceived by PFAC member Melissa Nichol, who suggested that providing a lovely, hand-made, cozy hat to patients would be a great way of providing support and acknowledging the challenges they face.

Over the course of six months, PFAC sourced a supply of almost 200 handmade hats.  Some were made by PFAC members themselves, others by generous volunteers, and even a few were created by talented Pencer Centre staff. 

The result is a collection of hats in a variety of styles and colours suitable for men and women of all ages. Attached to each hat is a tag that reads, "a gift of support & acknowledgement."

Throughout the month, a display table staffed by PFAC members has been set up in The Pencer Centre during clinic times.  Patients who are visiting the clinic are invited and encouraged to select a hat of their choice. 

"Hats for Hope" will continue until the end of October or until all of the hats are put into the hands and onto the heads of patients.

Acute Care for Elders (ACE) Initiative officially launches at TWH

Acute Care for Elders launch
Acute Care for Elders Initiative offers an opportunity to enhance knowledge of geriatric care. (Photo: UHN)

Health research has long shown that people over age 65 who are admitted to hospital can end up staying longer than expected, or leave worse off than when they arrived. Elderly patients often enter the hospital with existing medical issues and need specialized expertise to help manage their care.

Earlier in October, the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) initiative officially launched on Toronto Western Hospital's General Internal Medicine (GIM) in-patient units on 8A and 8B, with the implementation of practice changes to improve the quality of care for older adults. 

The ACE initiative aims to establish a patient's functional baseline – the normal level of a measurable quality such as their ability to walk – upon admission and maintain it. The goal is for the patient to be able to go home as scheduled and continue to live independently without experiencing further decline or acquiring any other conditions.

Currently, about 30 per cent of GIM patients are eligible for the ACE program. Patients over 65 who present to the Emergency Department (ED) with a combination of geriatric conditions such as delirium, falls, numerous prescriptions for several different medications, mobility issues, incontinence, or fragile skin, will be considered for the unit. An inter-professional team from GIM, the ED, and patient flow, along with a Nursing Coordinator will work together to manage each patient's case.

After being triaged in the ED, patients admitted to the ACE program get an automatic referral for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and social work assessments to establish their baseline of function. They are also given a specific order set for medications as dosing and even the type of medication can be different for the geriatric population – for example, Gravol is known to increase delirium, so a different medication must be prescribed to address nausea but avoid this side effect.

"We are excited to see how the expertise provided by this program will enhance our knowledge of geriatric care to benefit our patients and the two units overall," says Jan Lackstrom, Senior Clinical Director for the Centre for Mental Health, General Internal Medicine, the Regional Geriatric Program and Family and Community Health, TWH. "Keeping older patients at their baseline will help maintain their quality of life, their independence, and ultimately get them home faster."

Through a partnership between the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) and Canadian Frailty Network, TWH is now part of an international collaborative along with 18 other healthcare facilities across Canada and in Iceland that will continue to look at ways to improve care for hospitalized elders.

The Newcomer Welcome Fair at Toronto Western Hospital

Dance Welcome Fair
The Tai-Chi Kung Fu Fan Group dance troupe perform at the recent Newcomer Welcome Fair held at TWH. (Photo: UHN)

The Newcomer Welcome Fair was successfully held on Oct. 7 at TWH's BMO Education and Conference Centre. More than 300 newcomers attended this event to get helpful information through workshop presentations on brain health, employment, Hepatitis C, oral health, rental housing and settlement. 

Eighteen community agencies shared booths to provide information on community resources such as school system, public library, employment, settlement, legal, recreation, primary care and community health services.

On site health screenings and consultations were provided for newcomers with issues on diabetes, smoking, tuberculosis, immunization, dental, Hepatitis B, child growth and development.

"By coming to this fair, I got the chance of interacting and get to know other newcomers like me.  So well done! Excellent job you guys did. Well organized and very much appreciated by me. I wish to see another Newcomer Welcome Fair. Thanks very much," stated one participant of in a feedback form. 

Janet Newton, Interim Vice-President, TWH; MP Adam Vaughan; MPP Han Dong; City Councillor Joe Cressy; and Bill Sinclair, Chairperson of Toronto South Local Immigration Partnership (TSLIP); gave warm welcome speeches to the newcomers.

"Thanks to the dedicated TSLIP Chinatown Kensington Hub Network member agencies for organizing this welcome fair. Their hard work and generous sponsorships from CATIE, OMNI TV, and TGTW Asian Community Health Fund made this event successful," Miu Lin Wong, co-chair of the welcome fair, and Health Promoter of the TWH Family Health Team stated at her closing remarks of the fair.

The TWH Family Health Team; TWH Patient and Family Education; Asian Initiative in Mental Health;  UHN Liver Clinic; and Volunteer Resources also participated and supported this welcome fair.​

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